This article brings together many strands of law and policy to do with Pacific salmon. Consider it a source when you are looking for information.
You may find the Wild Salmon Policy, 2005 here on DFO’s site. We all want DFO to be doing this policy, something they have been remiss about for a very long time: http://www.pac.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/fm-gp/species-especes/salmon-saumon/wsp-pss/index-eng.html. And the Cohen Commission also called for getting on with the habitat policy extant even longer, since 1986, in his recommendation 41: http://www.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/cohen/report-rapport-eng.htm#r1.
Curtail Chinook Fisheries
Right off the top, let me say that I think it is not that far fetched that DFO will curtail the sport fishery for chinook on the grounds they feed orcas and there are not enough of them. Brian Riddell, PSF, may have a more informed opinion on this as he led a recent several-day meeting on orca issues.
I would say two things: DFO has consistently over the decades not done enough freshwater habitat restoration and salmon numbers have been declining to the point where the commercial harvest was pretty much non-existent in 2017. By comparison, Alaska, that forbids fish farms, and does ocean ‘ranching’ had a huge commercial haul of 243 million salmon.
In my opinion the big areas of decline are the Fraser, Broughton Archipelago with Kingcome Inlet and Clayoquot Sound.
Second, with science backing the argument, a half dozen environmental non-governmental organisations (ENGOs) are telling DFO to stop the fishery. I give donations to about a dozen such bodies in BC. An example is the Georgian Strait Alliance. Here is my response to ED Christianne Wilhelmson text to me on the orca/chinook issue. I have left out her original comments to save space:
- Net pens would put current chinook eggs already in hatcheries, like the Nitinat, Quinsam and Cowichan, into saltwater net pens in spring, where after three weeks of feeding, they are sent off. This is six months, not five years. Followed up by more eggs produced next year. Net pens are not difficult to make, use or maintain. I suggest you do one.
- I have watched killer whales thrash kelp beds to feed on the fish that flee, and watched a sealion tossed into the air in Brentwood Bay. I would say that a preference for chinook is more about their being present 12 months of the year than other reasons. If the other four species, currently present for 2 months a year or every two years, were present year-round, I doubt that chinook would be seen to be 90% of their diet.
- The real problem here is DFO – in Ottawa. I have watched them dwindle salmon away for 40 years and have lots of correspondence and stats from earlier decades on the issues. The fault is directly theirs. Even if chinook fishing were terminated, DFO would dwindle them to zero, just as they did east coast cod – and it would be far easier without the complaining commercial and sport sectors. We really need $100 million in freshwater habit restoration every year for a decade to turn things around. At least we have the Pacific Salmon Foundation. Note that one particularly good project is the coho channels put in the Taylor River above Sproat lake. There should be more of such projects, and they depend on flat land, tree protection and consistent water.
- Climate change is now a factor, and thinking needs to include solar power, water pumps, cooling and oxygen. Cabling logs will help many watersheds shed logging damage gravel. I have rejected dams high in watersheds on several grounds: they are costly to build and maintain, are destructive of wild land, could be commandeered for run of river power and have a limited life.
- Terminating sport chinook fishing would cause a steep decline in revenues/employment from this source. I went through the stats and came out that the fish resource, including freshwater, is far higher than the $1B figure we always use. I calculate it at $2.52 Billion and can show you how I calculated the figure – it was published in the PSF’s quarterly magazine. A huge decline can be expected from the saltwater portion, resulting in job losses, and below-value boat sales. No one needs a boat if you can’t fish. My current annual servicing bill, for example, is $4000, only a portion of my annual expenditure. Moorage is $3000, and so on.
- Thanks for the names of the scientists. Note that the PSF’s Salish Sea project may return coho and chinook numbers to 1990s levels – but, yes, a long-term outcome, when we need an immediate answer.
- We need to feed killer whales now, by actually giving them fish – hake, pollack, sablefish – or injecting nutrition into their veins, if possible.
- There are no genetic issues with diploid or triploid chinook as they are sterile, and I don’t buy the argument that they would eat the food of wild fish, because there are no wild fish, and thus the feed is not being eaten.
- I would say that chum are far more important to our forests than any other species – their large size, and large numbers. 30 years of river fishing in the fall has shown me their carcasses.
- By all means reach out to the sport sector, and do it soon. Consider them an ally not an enemy.
Just so you know, my first degree is in biochemistry, my third degree in public administration followed by finance and heavy-duty number crunching in Treasury Board Staff, BC Min of Finance. That’s where I get the abilities to come up with figures that don’t exist. For example, fish farm sewage in BC can be conservatively estimated at $10.4B, and they kill 5.76 billion forage fish to bring in one harvest in a BC sized industry – they don’t save fish, they kill fish. Both figures took me a long time to figure out.
Fix Fish Protection Laws
Here is an article I wrote that brings together much about laws that needs change to improve things for salmon. It is slanted toward fish farms, as that is the blog I put it on: http://fishfarmnews.blogspot.ca/2017/04/the-strictest-laws-in-world-wrong.html.
Do read the Hakai magazine on weakening of laws, followed by a discussion of the HADD (harmful alteration, disruption or destruction of fish habitat) provisions, Section 35 of the Fisheries Act.
Here is DFO’s take on HADD before and after 2012, when Harper weakened the law for his business buddies: http://www.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/pnw-ppe/changes-changements/index-eng.html. The downside on this one is that after LeBlanc came to be minister, it came out that DFO didn’t want to go back to the original laws, as its interest is business, not fish.
And do remember that changing the laws makes no difference if there is no enforcement presence or willingness to charge infringers. DFO does not have enough Conservation and Protection (C&P) presence in BC. This is from former director, Randy Nelson, whose book Poachers, P9olluters and Politics should be on your winter reading list: http://www.harbourpublishing.com/title/PoachersPollutersPolitics. It is very entertaining for anyone who fishes and also shows just how difficult a job being a CO is. If your wife is not willing to go along with your zeal for catching bad guys, because of its inherent danger, you had better look for another occupation.
Returning to the article I wrote, included is a stand alone document, that takes a major portion of attention as it is the individuals, taken collectively, that should be number one on our list, the Royal Society: http://fishfarmnews.blogspot.ca/2012/02/key-document-royal-society-of-canada.html.
Then carry on down the list I have put together: http://fishfarmnews.blogspot.ca/2017/04/the-strictest-laws-in-world-wrong.html.
Note the ecojustice list of problems with HADD provisions and taking DFO to court over putting PRV farmed salmon in the water. And West Coast Environmental Law, item 12, has good legal argument: http://fishfarmnews.blogspot.ca/2016/04/fixing-fisheries-act-west-coast.html.
And item 10 is Jeff Mathews’ take on 17 ways our fish laws have been weakened, written for the Huffington Post: http://fishfarmnews.blogspot.ca/2015/05/seventeen-ways-government-is-helping.html.
There is a lot more there, but you can peruse it at your leisure. You will find links to every document.
Elizabeth May and Fin Donnelly
Both of these BC MPs have contributed to the call for changes to laws that protect salmon and other fish species.
In December, 2016, Fin put together Bill 228 for bringing fish farms out of the water. The Liberals voted it down, although, in BC, 70% voted for it, with just the ministers voting negative. BC Liberals realize that if they don’t stand with salmon, they won’t get re-elected.
Here is Fin’s bill, and commentary on his text: http://fishfarmnews.blogspot.ca/2016/12/bill-c-228-trudeau-liberals-stand.html. The gist of this is that actual jobs in the fish farm industry are about 10% of what they claim.
This past week the fish farm associations came out with the recommendation that Canada triple fish farms to bring employment to ’19,000'. My usual rule of thumb is that if you multiply such estimates by 10%, you will have the realistic number, in this case, 1900 jobs across Canada. Both east and west coast are against the negative effects on wild salmonids represented by fish farms.
Just yesterday, Elizabeth May came out with her recommendations on what to do to revamp the Fisheries Act to bring with it proper protection for salmon/habitat. You may find her text here: http://elizabethmaymp.ca/uncategorized/2016/11/30/elizabeth-mays-submission-in-response-to-the-review-of-changes-to-the-fisheries-act/. And she has a PDF near the beginning.
These are her November 30, 2017 recommendations on HADD and so on, made to the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans on the ‘gutted’ Act.
And on Harper’s rewriting of the Fisheries Act in 2012, she says this: “It is not based on evidence or sound public policy analysis. In fact, it came from industry lobbying – word for word. To my knowledge in the last forty years of evolving environmental law, this is the first time in Canadian history that laws have been literally dictated to government by industry.”
Read the rest of her note. I pass now to her bullets to wrap this up:
- Repeal changes to the federal Fisheries Act found in spring 2012’s omnibus budget bill C-38.
- Remove the exemption of the Fisheries Act in the C-38 changes to the National Energy Board Act when pipelines are involved, as well as removal of the Species at Risk Act and Navigable Waters Act.
- Strengthen the Fisheries Act to:
- Require evaluation of threats to fish stocks and include provisions to protect fish stocks and the marine environment;
- Make protection of critical stocks and habitat mandatory;
- Require that the management and conservation of wild fisheries take precedence over aquaculture, wherever there are conflicts;
- Increase penalties for contravening the Fisheries Act;
- Improve public participation in decision making, under the principles of the Oceans Act, in particular engaging coastal communities in local fisheries management;
- Implement the Wild Salmon policy;
- Transfer the promotion of aquaculture to Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada and restore DFO’s role in protecting coastal eco-systems from the threat posed by open-pen aquaculture; and,
- Make fish-friendly flood control an aspect of climate adaptation.
The only thing I would add to May’s list is that we need adequate C&P funding and the department’s willingness to charge and follow through to conviction. Otherwise, there is no point changing the law, other than to affect the front end which is when projects get vetted for environmental reasons.